Higher Education

The Best American Essays, 6th Edition

  • Robert Atwan Curry College
  • ISBN-10: 1439083878  |  ISBN-13: 9781439083871
  • 464 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2008, 2004, 2001
  • © 2011 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $101.25
  • Newer Edition Available
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THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS, Sixth College Edition, presents highly regarded contemporary authors at their best. The essays are thematically arranged and selected from the popular trade series of the same name. They also cover common rhetorical modes, including narration and argumentation, providing instructors optimal flexibility with respect to course approach. In the introduction, Robert Atwan offers an overview of various types of essays to prepare students for the readings that follow. To further prepare students, "Essayists on the Essay" offers insightful commentaries about the genre from many of today's top writers.

Features and Benefits

  • The "Essayists on the Essay" section features well-known writers sharing their perspectives on writing and reading essays. This section contains a collection of commentaries from guest editors of the trade series, including Annie Dillard, Joseph Epstein, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Justin Kaplan.
  • Each selection is preceded by a biographical headnote and followed by a brief set of questions for class discussion or writing.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Prologue.
Anwar F. Accawi, "The Telephone". Marcia Aldrich, "Hair". Judith Ortiz Cofer, "Silent Dancing". Rich Cohen, "Becoming Adolph". Edwidge Danticat, "Westbury Court". Yusef Komunyakaa," The Blue Machinery of Summer". Rebecca McClanahan, "Book Marks"
Scott Russell Sanders, "The Inheritance of Tools". Lauren Slater, "Tripp Lake" Janna Malamud Smith, "Shipwrecked". Amy Tan, "Mother Tongue". Ryan Van Meter, "First".
Annie Dillard, "Stunt Pilot". Brian Doyle, "Joyas Voladoras". Kitty Burns Florey, "Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog". Ian Frazier, "A Lovely Sort of Lower Purpose". Patricia Hampl, "The Dark Art of Description". Ariel Levy, "The Lesbian Bride's Handbook". Barry Lopez, "The Stone Horse". Kyoko Mori, "Yarn". Joyce Carol Oates, "They All Just Went Away"
Susan Orlean, "Lifelike". David Sedaris, "This Old House". Gay Talese, "Ali in Havana".
Alan M. Dershowitz, "Shouting 'Fire!'". Anne Fadiman, "Mail". George Gessert, "An Orgy of Power". Vicki Hearne, "What's Wrong with Animal Rights". Garret Keizer, "Loaded". Jamaica Kincaid, "On Seeing England for the First Time". Verlyn Klinkenborg, "Our Vanishing Night". Michael Lewis, "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable". Danielle Ofri, "Living Will". Roger Scruton, "A Carnivore's Credo". Peter Singer, "The Singer Solution to World Poverty". Edward O. Wilson, "Apocalypse Now".

What's New

  • Thirteen New Readings: Rich Cohen, "Becoming Adolph"; Lauren Slater, "Tripp Lake"; Janna Malamud Smith, "Shipwrecked"; Ryan Van Meter, "First"; Patricia Hampl, "The Dark Art of Description"; Ariel Levy, "The Lesbian Bride's Handbook"; David Sedaris, "This Old House"; George Gessert, "An Orgy of Power"; Garret Keizer, "Loaded"; Verlyn Klinkenborg, "Our Vanishing Night"; Michael Lewis, "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable"; Roger Scruton, "A Carnivore's Credo"; Edward O. Wilson, "Apocalypse Now."
  • An updated prologue features key remarks on writing.
  • A comprehensive, student-produced interview with Atwan includes the author's commentary, as well as his thoughts on many elements of the writing process.

Learning Resource Bundles

Choose the textbook packaged with the resources that best meet your course and student needs. Contact your Learning Consultant for more information.

Bundle: The Best American Essays, 6th + The Concise Wadsworth Handbook, Untabbed Version, 3rd

ISBN-10: 1111424667 | ISBN-13: 9781111424664

List Price = $140.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $104.50

This Bundle Includes:

  • The Best American Essays
    List Price = $134.95  | CengageBrain Price = $134.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $101.25
  • The Concise Wadsworth Handbook, Untabbed Version
    List Price = $56.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $42.75


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the main title. Select the main title's "About" tab, then select "What's New" for updates specific to title's edition.

For more information about these supplements, or to obtain them, contact your Learning Consultant.

Instructor Supplements

Online Instructor's Resource Manual  (ISBN-10: 1439086184 | ISBN-13: 9781439086186)

Located on a password-protected faculty companion website, this interactive online instructor's resource manual provides instructor's resources and discussion points for the essays.

MindTap® Literature 2.0, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access  (ISBN-10: 1337091707 | ISBN-13: 9781337091701)

MindTap® Literature 2.0 is the digital learning solution that helps instructors engage and transform today's students into critical thinkers. Through paths of dynamic assignments and applications that you can personalize, real-time course analytics, and an accessible reader, MindTap helps you turn cookie-cutter into cutting-edge, apathy into engagement, and memorizers into higher-level thinkers. As an instructor using MindTap, you have at your fingertips the right content and unique set of tools curated specifically for your course, all in an interface designed to improve workflow and save time when planning lessons and course structure. The control to build and personalize your course is all yours, focusing on the most relevant material while also lowering costs for your students. Stay connected and informed in your course through real-time student tracking that provides the opportunity to adjust the course as needed based on analytics of interactivity in the course. Paired with the Questia online library, a rich collection of sources selected by librarians, MindTap Literature gives students direct links to hundreds of short stories, poems, plays, novels, and essays, as well as access to robust search tools in Questia that students can use as they do research. Comprehensive multimedia instruction in writing five major types of papers assigned in the course and supporting modules on literary terms and literary criticism provide extensive guidance for students as they learn to read and write about literature. Access to this product is valid for 6 months of usage. MindTap Literature 2.0 offers newly added iconic pieces of American Literature with discussion questions and quizzes. Additionally, there is insightful information about various literary movements and associated authors within each movement.

List Price = $60.00  | CengageBrain Price = $60.00  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $60.00

Student Supplements

MindTap® Literature 2.0, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access  (ISBN-10: 1337091707 | ISBN-13: 9781337091701)

It’s 1 AM, there are 20 tabs open on your computer, you lost your flashcards for the test, and you’re so tired you can’t even read. It’d be nice if someone came up with a more efficient way of studying. Luckily, someone did. With a single login for MindTap® Literature 2.0, 2nd Edition you can connect with your instructor, organize coursework, and have access to a range of study tools, including e-book and apps all in one place! Manage your time and workload without the hassle of heavy books! The MindTap Reader keeps all your notes together, lets you print the material, and will even read text out loud. Need extra practice? Find pre-populated flashcards and the entire eBook in the MindTap Mobile App, as well as quizzes and important course alerts. Want to know where you stand? Use the Progress app to track your performance in relation to other students.

List Price = $60.00  | CengageBrain Price = $60.00  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $60.00

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Robert Atwan

Since the inception of THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS in 1986 as a trade book title, Robert Atwan has been series editor. He has published reviews and essays in a range of periodicals and edited many other literature anthologies. Atwan most recently edited two collections of poetry with a biblical theme: CHAPTERS INTO VERSE by Oxford University Press and DIVINE INSPIRATION by Oxford University Press.